Developing a strategy for access to advice and support on Social Welfare Law in England and Wales
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New Research: Economic review of social welfare advice

The Low Commission have commissioned independent research on the economic value of social welfare advice from economists at the University of Surrey. You can download the reports here and read our press release.

Social Welfare Advice - summary of ecomomic review

LowCommissionPullout.pdf (Adobe PDF - 112Kb) Social Welfare Advice - summary of ecomomic review

Social Welfare Advice - economic review full report

Social-Welfare-Advice-Services-Final-Report-20140603-Main-Text.pdf (Adobe PDF - 578Kb) Social Welfare Advice - economic review full report


Economic value of social welfare advice makes compelling investment case – new Low Commission research.

The Low Commission which earlier this year published its report on a future strategy for social welfare advice, in light of legal aid cuts, has now published a major follow up work on the economic value of social welfare advice. A research review undertaken by Graham Cookson, an economist at the University of Surrey, presents compelling evidence from different sources that social welfare advice saves public services money.

Looking at all work to date on Cost Benefits Analysis (CBA) and Social Return on Investment data, the report finds that legal aid not only pays for itself, but it also makes a significant contribution to families/ households, to local area economics, and also contributes to significant public savings. Different studies done in the UK, US, Canada and Australia have all demonstrated similar findings that for every pound or dollar invested, there’s a multiple of 10 in the savings produced by, for example, keeping people their homes with jobs and incomes intact rather than having to utilise expensive crisis and emergency services. The review shows that legal advice across different categories of law result in positive outcomes for clients and their households. Finally the review also calls for further evaluation of advice services to establish more data on effectiveness and value for money.

Commenting on the findings Lord Colin Low said:

“This research, carried out independently, demonstrates with hard economics the true value of social welfare advice. It can no longer be argued that funding social welfare advice is too much of a burden on the state. Early and necessary interventions from advice and legal support prevent problems and expense further down the line.

“The research also righty calls for more robust and evidence based research on the impact and value of social welfare advice – all too often policy-makers apply ideological assumptions rather than evidence based ones. The funding landscape needs to be based on what works, and what works for the long term.

“So our strategy addresses the long term and calls for a 10 year framework for advice and legal support, levering in available funding from across central and local government.”

Embargo: Monday 21st July

Contact: James Sandbach: 07508327606


(i) The Low Commission (Chaired by Lord Low of Dalston) was established late 2012 in light of legal aid and funding cuts to develop a new strategy for social welfare advice. It is funded by several different Foundations and is independent from provider groups and political interests. It published its main report at the beginning of this year. Following this, the Commission launched a second stage of follow up work to strengthen the evidence base and advocate for new strategy. The Cookson report is the Low Commission’s first follow up report. You can find out more from the Low Commission’s website

(ii) “Social Welfare Law” means advice on asylum, benefits, community care, debt, education (including special educational needs), employment, housing and immigration – typically provided by Law Centres, CABx and non-profit agencies. In looking at social welfare law needs and issues, the Commission addresses the whole continuum from education and information to advice, legal support and representation. It also looks at interaction across different delivery channels (phone, web, face to face) and different organisations in the public, non-profit and private fields.